“As always, Policarpo Quaresma, more commonly known as Major Quaresma, arrived home at a quarter past four in the afternoon. He had done so for more than twenty years. Leaving the Ministry of War, where he was undersecretary, he would pick out some fruit at the shops, buy a cheese occasionally and always the bread from the French bakery.”
“This time however, contrary to the norm, Saint Peter, before leaving, took a preemptive look at the list; and this action was useful, because if he hadn’t, perhaps, from that time on, for the rest of time – who knows? – Heaven might have been totally ruined. Saint Peter read the report: there were a lot of souls, many indeed, but out of all them and the attached explanations, one of them stood out and looked particularly odd.”
“- So I need three highly-rated individuals who could witness an experiment and can give me a statement to that effect, in order to protect the copyright of my invention…As you know: there are unforeseen events which…
– Certainly! No doubt!
– Imagine if this was about making gold…
– How? What? Asked Bastos, his eyes widening.
– Yes! Gold! Said Flamel, with great conviction.”
“Simões was the descendant of a well-known family from Rio de Janeiro, the Feitais, from whom the 13 th of May snatched over a thousand slaves. A real fortune, because slaves, in those days, despite abolitionist agitation, were a prized commodity.”
“No one wants to argue; no one wants to shake things up; no one wants to add excitement. Everyone wants to ‘eat.’ Jurists ‘eat,’ philosophers ‘eat,’ doctors ‘eat,’ lawyers ‘eat,’ poets ‘eat,’ novelists ‘eat,’ engineers ‘eat,’ journalists ‘eat’: Brazil is a vast ‘pig out’.”
“I received letters from intellectuals in the interior, newspapers cited me and I had to refuse to accept a class of students thirsting to learn Javanese.”
“Whilst working in the State’s employ there are o surprises, and they don’t even ask you to make any extra effort to be alive the following day. Everything runs calmly and smoothly, without any collisions or upsets, writing the same papers and advice notes, the samedecrees and edicts, in the same way, throughout the entire year, except on Holy Days, Bank Holidays and free optional days, one of the best inventions of our Republic.”
“During the centuries of slavery, their ancestors who lived in cities would only have been able to relive the ceremonies of their hutments or villages during Carnival. The tradition was passed down to their children, then their grandchildren, who continued to observe an inevitably warped version of it.”
“When I leave home and go to the corner of the Estrada Real de Santa Cruz, to wait for the streetcar, I get a good look at the misery that runs through this Rio de Janeiro.”
“She saw her father’s stern look; her mother’s recriminations. She, nevertheless, had to get married. She couldn’t spend her entire life like that, a dog without an owner…Her parents were going to die one day, and she couldn’t be left in the world helpless…A doubt came over her: he was white; she, mulatto…”